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Ghost Companies

Part 1 Project 2001
Kiyoshi Hara
Joanne Desyllas
London Metropolitan University | UK
Ghost Company

The project is divided into 3 parts;

The project combines a number of complimentary programs into a series of devices, examining boundary territories. These territories are notional physical landscapes.

The Traveller and his Travelling Companion move along a notional boundary. Their reciprocal relationship with a new boundary is measured. A mirror allows the Traveller to see where it could be... on the other side of the territory.

Gibraltar's unique fiscal policy offers a home for companies, which although registered are not, in effect, commercially active. There are over 5,000 such Ghost Companies in Gibraltar, none of which have a physical building.

My project exploits the covert nature of the Ghost Companies and the geographical proximity of the Spanish mainland separated from Gibraltar by a narrow isthmus of sandy silt occupied by the airport runway.

A main building located in Gibraltar operates as a Recycling Centre that buys and recycles industrial and household waste. The factory is positioned below the ground to a depth of 15m. Ground water and silty sand is contained behind a massive steel and concrete structure. The vast structure forms a tank within which the factory floors are accommodated. Wood and Plastic facilities are provided but, corresponding with the growth of the Ghost Company, facilities for recycling metal, glass and rubber can later be added.

It is proposed that the building is affiliated to a Spanish Headquarters which also buys the factory's recycled goods. A Ghost Company controls all trade between the two countries and, at the same time, earns the tax-free profits.

In this sense, the building itself can be seen as a cover. It conceals the core of the system - the Secret Room, hidden within the administration offices. In common with all Ghost Companies it does have one manifestation of its existence - the anonymous PO boxes, which in this instance, are secreted within the nearby United Nations Japanese car park.

Kiyoshi Hara
Joanne Desyllas

This student’s work investigates the nature and performance of the edge—not just the measurable edge but more particularly the less tangible boundaries of make-believe notional territories. With intelligence and imagination he conceived a series of mechanisms to explore these ‘places’ and produced, by their influence, a narrative concerning a mechanical traveller and his travelling companion who together navigate a boundary that divides them.

The student developed these themes in the programme for his major building proposal. His analysis of Gibraltar focused on both the physical and intangible boundaries between Gibraltar and its neighbour Spain. He sites his building on the no-mans hinterland adjacent to the Spanish frontier and the Gibraltar airport runway. The student observed the covert nature of cross-border communications, smuggling and tax evasion and conceived a building programme that serves this ‘industry’ under the cover of a worthy recycling centre for wood and plastic waste building waste. The centre, itself concealed in the sandy silt at the edge of the bay, acts as a shroud for the activities of a ‘ghost company’ one of 5,000 registered on the rock. It exists as a secret room from which the profits can be illicitly administered.

The tongue-in-cheek wit and rigorous spatial investigations complement the student’s fascination with this narrative and programme. He has an accomplished skill that allows him to manifest the invisible not just as a body of analysis but as a real, ‘working’ architectural proposal.

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